Monthly Archives: April 2018

4 Easy Tips to Stay Fit on Vacation

(As published on Bay Tree Solutions blog: https://www.baytreesolutions.com/blog/2018/03/28/4-tips-to-stay-fit-on-your-next-vacation.)

A vacation should be a means to restore your vitality, as well as to enjoy the company of those with whom you travel. For Americans, this usually includes lounging by the beach or pool, enjoying a cocktail while gazing at a perfect outdoor scene at sunset and enjoying leisurely meals and …oh yes!…sampling deserts! According to an article in Eat This magazine, “It might come as no surprise that vacation days can cause weight gain, but it’s not just the alcohol that’s doing it. Between skipped workouts, lazy days by the pool, and extra-indulgent restaurant meals, there are plenty of vacation mistakes that are wrecking your body goals.”

My theory is just the opposite. If properly planned and executed, I believe these four tips will help keep you fit on your next vacay. So, read on!

Tip #1 – Stay Active & Engaged.

Fortunately for those of us enjoying our vacation at a timeshare resort, we’ve got options. Many resorts are actually famous for their activities, such as the award-winning ‘INSPIRED FOR YOU’ program at the Welk Resort in Escondido. There you can try your hand at one of their championship golf courses or enjoy one of the five recreation centers and a stunning new 6,000 square foot fitness center featuring spin and yoga rooms, state-of-the-art strength and cardio machines and a two-story climbing wall.

Typically, a resort’s activities director will host poolside activities. For example, Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa features several pools. One of these, High Rock Spring Pool, is the resort’s hub and includes a Donald Duck-themed splash area for tots, plus a 126-foot waterslide zipping past a waterfall. For grownups, there are two whirlpool tubs nestled on a rocky hill overlooking the pool. Monster’s Inc., G-Force and Enchanted are just a few of the poolside movies offered at night.

Tip #2 – Save Your Restaurant Outings for Special Occasions.

One blogger advises keeping a fairly consistent diet. “It helps maintain weight better than being erratic.  Even when you’re on vacation, aim to eat roughly the same amount and kinds of food as you usually do. Your body will thank you.” Consider stocking your fridge with plenty of easy-to-fix ingredients. We especially like keeping packages of precut veggies and fruits on hand to tempt the kids instead of having them load up on sugary snacks or begging to go to a fast food joint. Most evenings we will serve a simple meal like a salad, canned or frozen veggies and a rotisserie chicken or a broiled steak. There’s nothing like having a home-away-from-home with a dining area and kitchen facilities to make this possible!

We especially like the way Marriott Vacation Club timeshare condos are designed in this respect. Marriott’s Grand Chateau in Las Vegas has one of the most spacious and commodious suites we’ve encountered, yet. Located within a short walk of the Strip a block south of Flamingo Road, you can stroll over to one of the casinos to try your luck. But with the marketplace and restaurants, fitness center, rooftop pool and spa facilities located in-house, you may never wish to leave this luxurious palace!

Tip #3 – Get Out And Enjoy the Sites.

Maybe it’s time to be adventurous and try something new. Challenge yourself to try something different while you’re away. Break out of a workout rut and use vacation as an excuse to try rock climbing, sailing, zip-lining or parasailing. Or maybe you’d be more comfortable on the golf course or at the bowling alley. How about a walk on the beach, a hike through the foothills or a stroll through a colorful village?

Whatever you choose, staying active is a great way to keep your mind young and your body in shape. My husband and I enjoy studying history. So whenever possible, we love to visit sites such as Williamsburg, Virginia, where we can get our exercise in while learning more about the life and times of colonials. In addition to historic attractions, there are world-class roller coasters in Busch Gardens and other theme parks and theaters presenting Broadway-style shows, not to mention tours such as a sunset voyage on a pirate ship. Aargh!

We found King’s Creek Plantation to be a great location. The resort is fairly new and we like the roomier accommodations and more modern layout and fixtures. When you get tired of tromping around the historic district, the resort has all the amenities you’d expect and then some. It has a delightful Aquatic Center with a beautiful junior-size Olympic swimming pool for year-round enjoyment. Plus there are three outdoor pools.

Tip #4 – Enjoy Your Travel Companions

Keep work away. It’s a vacation, remember? Resist the urge to check work e-mails and focus on having fun. It will keep your mind clear and allow you to decompress. Free your mind. Meditating for just a few minutes each day can help relieve anxiety and stress. Bonus points if you can find a beautiful space to do it in.Most of all, enjoy the company of the people around you.

When we take a vacation, it’s like meeting one another for the first time in years…I mean, really getting reacquainted, connecting and communicating. Getting away to a resort with living areas separate from bedrooms is about the only way to truly do this, in my opinion. We play games, talk about school and work or just sit together reading or watching TV. There’s a closeness in this that we just can’t get at home and certainly can’t get in a starchy hotel room.

Plus, we always seem to meet fun people at resorts each and every time we go. The atmosphere is so relaxed; people are at their most serene and friendly.  The most current belief in the health community is that people who connect with friends and loved ones actually live longer and have greater health.

A vacation doesn’t have to mean you’re going to gain five pounds. If you make the most of your time away, you can return refreshed, renewed and invigorated. And who knows? Perhaps you will have added precious time to your lifespan!

One Top Travel Secret: Kennebunk, ME, in the Off-Season

(Published on Bay Tree Solutions’ blog, https://www.baytreesolutions.com/blog/2018/02/15/one-top-travel-secret-kennebunk-maine-in-the-off-season)

As a recent article, “What the Travel Industry Needs in 2018,” posted by Robin Amster on TravelPulse.com mentions, “the line between ‘high’ and ‘shoulder’ season has blurred as travelers head out to explore destinations year-round.” The author prognosticates that this year’s travel trends will be punctuated by “New Seasons for Traditional Destinations.”

This is particularly good news for timeshare resort owners who might wish to optimize their week by using their week(s)’ exchange value or points. You can really stretch your vacation ownership privileges when you explore resorts in the off-season.

How about a visit to Kennebunkport, Maine? Long an elite vacation spot for well-heeled patricians, this is the site of the summer home of former U.S. President George H. W. Bush, father of former U.S. President George W. Bush. During his presidency, George H.W. Bush would occasionally host world leaders here, including Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev. Later, George W. Bush found it the ideal setting for a less formal get-together with Vladimir Putin.

While you are not likely to run into a member of the Bush dynasty outside the summer season, you can still enjoy having an entire beach to yourself if you visit from September through May. Located nearby is the small (with only 10,000 or so inhabitants), historic town of Kennebunk, where you can enjoy the full range of condo amenities in “84 Maine,” a cozy timeshare resort in the heart of town.

84 Maine is part of the popular Capital Resorts Group Vacation Club points program; allowing owners to exchange to any Capital Resorts location worldwide, in addition to Interval International’s network of more than 3,000 resorts in over 80 nations. Located in the town of Kennebunkport, 84 Maine offers eco-friendly one, two, and three-bedroom units with hardwood floors, gourmet kitchens, and private patios overlooking the town’s charming Main Street. Browse Capital Resorts timeshares for sale at 84 Maine at low ‘for sale by owner’ prices!

The Brick Store Museum is located just down the street and is worth visiting several times during your stay. Founder Edith C. Barry amassed a large number of family heirlooms and art during the beginning years of the Brick Store Museum, beginning in 1936. Today, the Museum houses close to 70,000 artifacts and archival materials.

Ms. Barry’s great-grandfather, William Lord, began constructing the main part of the museum as a dry goods store in 1825. At the time of Lord’s death in 1873, he was one of the wealthiest men in town. “Initially known as Lord’s Store, it was unusual for its time by being constructed of locally-kilned brick, a far more expensive alternative than constructing from plentiful Maine timber,” we are told by the website. “Although the brick exterior of the building remains relatively unchanged from the 19th Century, the interior has been altered significantly. Evidence of the building’s past as a store still remains upstairs, however; a windlass (or pulley system) used to hoist heavy goods is visible through a skylight.”

How fortunate for us that Lord took such pains to erect a building that has lasted almost 200 years! Edith Barry acquired three other buildings, all dating from the 1800s and expanded the museum’s footprint considerably. “These buildings date from 1810 to 1860. The initial core of the Museum’s collections came from the Lords and related families, but the Museum today is a regional history, art, and archives center.

“While many items can be found on display in rotating exhibits, most of our items are stored in a secured area of the Museum. Objects in our collections are used for exhibitions, educational programs, and research. The number of artifacts grows every day with new donations relating to the history of our community in the Kennebunks and southern Maine.

“Imagine quilts with secret pouches and handwritten inscriptions. Or a rare chest dating to 1685. Even a painting found floating at sea of a Kennebunkport ship captain. Examine pieces salvaged from area shipwrecks. Peek inside a Civil War drum for a real surprise. View the largest collection of World War I and II posters in all of Maine. Witness paintings created by Thomas Badger, John Brewster, Jr., Abbott Fuller Graves, Louis Norton, and Hannah Skeele.”

After a morning spent surveying how the typical ‘Maineiac ‘ lived during the Nineteenth Century, you can virtually remain in the past with lunch at the picturesque general store, H.B. Provisions. In 2002, an enterprising couple took over this 1865 building, turning it into a popular meeting place for the town’s community and where visitors can find a variety of unique gifts from Maine, as well as wine, beer, liquor, made to order deli breakfast and sandwiches, fresh baked goods, specialty coffee and more.

Those interested in the Great Outdoors may wish to visit the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. It was established in 1966 in cooperation with the State of Maine to protect valuable salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. A few of the activities to be enjoyed — particularly during the warmer months — include hunting, fishing, shell-fishing, kayaking and more. “Located along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties, the refuge consists of eleven divisions between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth. It will contain approximately 14,600 acres when land acquisition is complete. The proximity of the refuge to the coast and its location between the eastern deciduous forest and the boreal forest creates a composition of plants and animals not found elsewhere in Maine. Major habitat types present on the refuge include forested upland, barrier beach/dune, coastal meadows, tidal salt marsh, and the distinctive rocky coast.”

With easy access to beaches from Kennebunk, here are some ideas one writer at www.weekendnotes.com/visit-the-beach-winter offered:

“You might think I am bonkers for mentioning going to the beach during the coldest season of the month, but I’m not crazy, I actually have a lot of good reasons for you and your family to visit the beach and things you can do there in Winter.

• Go shell collecting. The sand won’t be hot like it is in the Summer so it will be easier to walk around and dig up old shells. Lots of fun, my boys seem to really enjoy this activity – they paste the mini shells onto paper using glue.

• Take lovely photos of the beach. It will be less crowded and easier to take some really nice landscape shots. Kids at the beach also make for really good photos too.

• Watch the sunset and the waves crashing while there is no one around, most likely the beach will be empty. It is the perfect time to sit on a blanket or pier and watch the waves rolling in.

• Eat some hot food on the beach, if it is slightly warm or a bit cool it will feel nice eating hot food like fish and chips on the beach. You can even eat it from inside the car, but still watching the beach.

• Go for a run along the beach, much easier to do than in Summer because there isn’t a lot of people.

• I love the beach during the Winter, I think it is more beautiful and more fun to enjoy. My favorite part is that there is hardly anybody there, and if there is you can always make friends.

• I have noticed tides can be quite rough in the Winter time so always be careful and make sure your kids do not fall into the water.”

If beaches are your ‘thing,’ then check out gokennebunks.com/pages/visiting/beaches to read reviews and select your favorite. Regardless when you visit or how you like to spend your holiday time, however, this vacation destination is a great spot for anyone interested in beating the hustle and bustle of the city. Plus, you’ll fall in love with 84 Maine!

2018’s Best Kept Secrets of Successful Marketing

While the fundamentals of marketing never change – you know, the four “P’s” of Product, Placement, Pricing and Promotion – the Internet has brought about a sea change to every aspect. There are not only new tools rapidly emerging (remember the quick demise of MySpace?), the chatter is almost insurmountable. It’s really hard to be heard above the din.

But the best kept secrets to marketing in 2018 are the same as they were in 1918. While you are using new methods and media to reach prospects, they are still people. Your messaging still follows the strictures of the human psyche. Not much has changed since the days of Dale Carnegie, and he would probably have agreed with the following suggestions:

  1. Social proof. This is the herd mentality; let your prospects know ‘everyone’s doing it.’
  2. For ions society has taught children to reciprocate. Everything has a ‘price.’ So, if your customer receives something of value, such as an eBook, a list of today’s most popular vacation destinations or ‘five easy recipes,’ they will feel the urge to respond by providing their name, email and phone number.
  3. Commitment and consistency. Be like Geico: in their advertising, they make their point over and over using the same methodology.
  4. “No pressure here, but availability is limited!” Communicate grandeur whenever possible.
  5. Be likeable. People buy from those they know, like and trust.
  6. Create a sense of belonging. Make your customer feel they are part of the “in” crowd when they’re invited to a special “members-only” event, for example.
  7. Your blogs, your collateral and your social media will be most effective when you tell a story featuring people. Storytelling is the most compelling promotional tool you have.
  8. Use rituals, symbols and events whenever possible. Ask your typical realtor. They will tell you that the words “Grand Opening” or “Super Sales Event” draws a crowd, even though the prices and offerings are the same on a non-event day.
  9. Being different is better than being better (unless you get weird).
  10. Focus on leads, not sales.

Marketing tactics for 2018 and beyond will depend almost strictly on digital tools: the website, social media sites, online advertising and email. Step one is to review your marketing budget and determine what your resources will be for the year. Step two might be to have a meeting with your team and plan the what, when and whom. From there you can create a calendar for when you will blog, post, email, direct mail (yes, DM is still a useful tool), buy pay-per-click (PPC) ads and make phone calls. (By the way, explore PPC. It is an important SEO optimizer.)

Above all, focus on your website and bear in mind: only great photography sells. Spend the money. The website is you! If your website and photos are sloppy, you are sloppy. Include money shots with people included. Also pay attention to your site’s layout. The most valuable real estate is the left-hand side. Get viewers to your call to action with a solid landing page. Hold in mind, viewers read websites in the shape of an “F.”

 

Everything You Need to Know about Marketing Online

Blog! Blogging elevates your position on Google, which is the most relevant search engine. While this isn’t actually “everything you need to know about marketing online,” it’s still a major point. Analysts who track Google’s algorithm processes are preaching the value of blogging, complemented by a mélange of social media interaction, with every facet driving traffic to the website.

They say there’s a lot of science involved in getting to the top-third of a Google search result page, but it’s not only for those with deep pockets. There are several rules that will help you get to the top, at least in 2018. (Who knows what surprises and challenges are likely to occur by 2019?)

Number one is to pay careful attention to writing attention-grabbing headlines in your blog and social media posts. The best headlines create surprise, ask a question or create curiosity. But with so many marketers relying on formulas for their headlines like “5 ways to leave your spouse” and other rote techniques, it’s getting harder and harder to differentiate your clever headline. So, beware…we marketers will have to keep reinventing the wheel.

And now a little about your content: Try to use your keywords in headlines and the text whenever possible. Use pictures everywhere. Pictures and videos with people telling their own stories, your story…any story…are what’s hot these days. This helps you leverage the human instinct to congregate and engage in community to gain buy-in (see #1 above, Social Proof). Most people are reluctant to become early adopters. They want to know that others have bought in and are happy with their decision. To urge prospects to take action, they will need to be able to see themselves as part of your world, a member of your tribe. Look for opportunities to give your group an identity, an element of exclusivity. Keep your materials and collateral consistent with being part of ‘The [insert your logo here] Club.’

Are you or whoever is in charge of your marketing a perfectionist? (I blush to admit sharing this fault, myself.) Experts say, get over it (at least when it comes to creating content)! It’s more important to be different, to tell a different story or use a different angle to your photos and artwork. If there’s any exception to this, it’s your website. If your website isn’t amazing, you’re losing money. So, here you can be a little bit more of a perfectionist. If you’re going to spend money, spend it here.

All of your online efforts are intended to drive traffic to your website. Your social media posts will cross-link to the blog, which will promote visitors to your website and will, in turn, keep your site more relevant to Google.

Every page of your site should have a landing page (pardon the redundancy). In some cases, you may be able to offer a product like an eBook or discount coupon in exchange for contact information. People are accustomed to being asked to give something to get something. But provide a landing page as an option for viewers to fill out, whether it’s gated or open.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….

If you’re not using marketing automation to capture these leads and to respond, shame! Consumers expect an immediate response. They’re not going to be surprised or dismayed if you follow up. Quite the contrary; they expect it. And you should have a system in place to repeatedly touch base with those who have made contact with you.

When you do communicate, remember that you are the authority. Your messages convey the fact that there is a uniqueness, value and scarcity to what you are offering. Yes, they don’t want to be first to join your community; but, yes! They still want that feeling of exclusivity.

While we’re on the subject of operations, let’s discuss how you can best manage your digital enterprise. There are a number of software systems to help schedule, manage and track posts. My Google search found several attractive systems, including buffer.com, zoho.com, hootsuite.com and postplanner.com.

You can find free guidance for social media best practices non-stop online from sites such as salesforce.com, mashable.com and guykawasaki.com. At least for 2018, you’ll need a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and perhaps to LinkedIn and Google+.

As far as the content you post is concerned, there are a few solid rules. Among them are: 1) use names and faces whenever possible, 2) include hashtags everywhere, 3) watermark all photos and 4) keep your design and content consistent with your brand. Not all social media posts need to be design heavy, but they do need to reflect your specific brand.

All in all, remember that SEO is a lifestyle change, not a diet. You’re going to need to give it a front seat in your marketing operation, if it isn’t first and foremost, already.

Once you’ve created the basics, you might expand your options by adding an online chat room – a great way to engage and build value with your visitors. At the very least, you will need to plan the work and work the plan when it comes to capturing and responding to online leads. Nurture every lead with VIP recognition. This is when you will begin to recognize and appreciate the ROI of your digital marketing enterprise. May 2018 be your best year, yet!

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Sharon Scott Wilson is publisher of Resort Trades magazine and the digital publication, Resort Trades Weekly. She is CEO of PR/marketing firm SharonINK. Wilson is a registered resort professional (RRP) and Chairman’s League member of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA).